I Stutter

It was much worse when I was a kid. The stutter was more intense, and I’d get stuck on words for what felt like an eternity. No kid wants to be ‘different,’ at least not like that.

I don’t think I was bullied. Still, the other kids would laugh when it was bad, and I was always self-conscious about it.

These days, people are surprised when I say I have a stutter.

I’ve developed a bunch of techniques to work around it.

Starting sentences is where I have the most trouble. I have to choose words that come out easily.

I’ll start many sentences with ‘so’ or ‘but’ because they’re effortless for me. They give me momentum.

I’m usually okay once a sentence gets going, but not always.

Remember Porky Pig? The way he’d swap his words was spot-on.

He’d try to say, “What’s going on?” but would end up saying, “What’s guh-guh-guh-guh— … what’s happening?”

That hard ‘G’ sound can be much tougher to squeeze out than the soft ‘H’ of ‘happening.‘

I sometimes feel a tough word coming ahead of time in a conversation. I’ll find a synonym or change the structure of the sentence and avoid the stutter altogether.

I rarely have the “st-st-st-st-stutter” that you think of. Mine is more of a silent stutter. When speaking, I go quiet, and you’ll notice my face tick or tense up as I try to get a word out.

My stutter gets worse with stress and anxiety. Acknowledging the stutter by saying something like, “Man, my stutter is really bad today” helps me relax and move on.

Phone calls are the worst for stutterers.

For some reason, it gets worse when the other person can’t see my face. Without visual cues, my silent stutter is just awkward silence. Each millisecond feels like a minute when I’m quietly trying to get my sentence started.

On a video call, things are immediately better, even if I can’t see you.

It’s weird.

I’m in good company, though. Other stutterers include Newton, Turing, Darwin, Aristotle, and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few.

I cry every time I watch stutterer — and president — Joe Biden talk to this young boy who stutters.

I can’t tell you just how much of an effect this conversation would have had on me as a kid. I didn’t know any other stutterers growing up. Watching it, I immediately become an 8-year-old kid all over again.